Diabetes is a condition that affects the way your body metabolises sugar. This will lead to high levels of blood sugar, a potentially dangerous condition, that can affect nearly every organ if left untreated and uncontrolled.
Types of diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes- Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Though usually type 1 diabetes sets in during childhood or adolescence and type 2 diabetes develops over 40, both can develop at any age.
In addition to this there is gestational diabetes, a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy and resolves after delivery. Whatever the type, they are all identified by elevated blood sugar levels.
Symptoms of diabetes
All types of diabetes have certain common symptoms which include:
• Frequent urination
• Increased thirst
• Increased hunger
• Unexplained weight loss
• Slow healing of wounds
• Frequent infections
• Vision problems
Causes of diabetes
Type 1 diabetes may be caused by genetic conditions and environmental factors. Your insulin producing cells are destroyed and your body produces little or no insulin. This will lead to a build-up of sugar in your blood.
In type 2 diabetes your body become resistant to insulin. No matter how much insulin is produced, sugar is not utilised correctly leading to excess sugar in the blood.
It is not clear why this happens, but genetics and environmental factors are thought to play a role in this. Being overweight may also increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is caused by the hormones produced by the placenta. These lead to a greater resistance to insulin. Usually, more insulin is produced to counter this resistance, but sometimes it is not enough and this leads to excess blood sugar.
Treatment options for diabetes
Insulin injection will be required for type 1 diabetes. You will have to monitor your blood sugar frequently to ensure that you blood sugar remains near normal and does not spike up or down. You will have to learn how your body reacts to food, activity and medications so you can identify the optimal dosage of insulin. Illness, stress etc. could also affect your sugar levels, so you will have to frequently monitor your levels to maintain normalcy.
You may be given medicines to stimulate insulin production and release, decrease release of glucose from liver, make tissues more sensitive to insulin or block kidneys from reabsorbing sugar into the blood.
Your diet should include fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Choose foods that are high in nutrition value and rich in fiber but low in calories and fat. Refined carbohydrates, sweets and saturated fats must be avoided. A dietician will help you choose foods that are good for you and avoid those that can be harmful.
Any activity that gets you moving will reduce your blood sugar levels. You should exercise for at least 30 minutes at least five days a week. Consult your doctor about what exercise is good for you before you start on any new exercise plan.
With a little care, diabetes can be managed well so you can live a full and productive life. If you require assistance contact our experts.